You’ve used your pesticide or fertilizer and now it is time to throw it out. How though? You know that reasonably you shouldn’t just throw it away and dumping it would be bad for the plants and ground water. How do you get rid of these chemicals?

Pesticide Manufacturers must put proper disposal information on the label.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency has requirements for the pesticide labels. In Extension, we commonly say “the label is the law” because it truly is. If you do not adhere to the directions on the label, you are breaking the law. It can be a super helpful handbook that will answer most of your basic questions.

There is a section on each pesticide container that will say “Storage and Disposal” with information about how to dispose of the chemical and/or the container.

Image of the pesticide label containing the section for proper storage and disposal methods
Example of Storage and Disposal section on pesticide label.

When you need more direction than the label provides:

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has to recommended solutions to dispose of chemicals through your regular trash service. Please protect yourself by wearing rubber gloves and eye protection. Never mix more than one material when disposing.

  1. Solidification
    • Use sawdust, kitty litter, or shredded newspapers to absorb the liquid chemicals
    • Work outside and away from children and animals
    • Double your trash bags
    • Pour in the dry material before the wet material to prevent splashing
    • Do not overfill the bag to the point you cannot handle it or it rips
  2. Evaporation
    • Best for thin, flammable liquids (gasoline, paint thinner)
    • Work outside and away from children and animals. You can use a well ventilated area as another option.
    • Open the top and let the remaining chemical evaporate
    • Use a disposable metal tray for larger amounts to increase the surface area (an aluminum foil roasting pan is ideal)
    • Dispose of the container and tray by wrapping in newspaper and placing in normal trash

How to dispose of an empty container

The industry standard is to triple rinse your containers and render them unusable. Use the Solidification step above for the rinse solution. Cut the container so that it cannot be reused. Throw away or recycle like normal.

Video demonstrating steps to properly perform triple rinse method.

What if you just really don’t want to throw the chemical away?

There are a few options.

  • You can store the chemical properly (remember the label! It has instructions for storing) to keep for the next time you will use it.
  • Ask your neighbors, friends, or family if they could use the product.
  • Talk to your landscape company. Ask if they have the ability to take your household hazardous waste and dispose of it with their products.
  • Call your Extension office at 1-800-ASK-UGA1.
  • Refer to the Georgia Department of Agriculture, they try to host Pesticide Clean Days at least once per year where you can dispose of your chemicals at a drop off location.

Final Thoughts

  • Always refer to the pesticide label! Remember, it is the law.
  • Wear your Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) every time you handle pesticides and other hazardous chemicals.
  • Never dispose of chemicals down sinks, toilets, or other drains
  • Never dump chemicals onto the open ground